Golf legend, Tiger Woods, sits just four shots off the clubhouse lead with an incredible one-under-par opening round at the Masters as he completes his miraculous recovery – just 14 months after a near-fatal car crash.
Tiger Woods made his long-awaited and miraculous comeback from a near-fatal crash with a statement opening round of 71 at the 86th Masters at Augusta National on Thursday.
Woods made his memorable return dressed in a bright pink shirt, to match the famous azaleas at the Georgia course pleasing fans as he finished one-under in his first round. Sitting four shots back of clubhouse leader Im Sung-jae after an errant tee shot on the last, saw him scrambling to make a par.
While Woods did not appear to be limping his way around Augusta but a handful of drives missed left suggested he was tiring, unable to put pressure on his right leg. A birdie at 14 was followed by a dropped shot at the 15th which saw him drop back to even par. He took a visit to the straw needles after sending his drive left of the fairway and was unable to make a neat up-and-down from the back of the green.
“There is a long way to go, it is a marathon, but it is nice to get off to a positive start,” Woods said after playing his first competitive round in 508 days.
When asked whether being able to play felt like a victory after the severity of his injuries, Woods replied: “Yes. To see where I’ve been, to get from there to here, it was no easy task. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity to be able to play, and not only that, to play in the Masters and to have this type of reception. I mean, the place was electric.”
Woods had arrived at Augusta National this week in the belief that he could win and a sensational birdie on the par-three 16th ensured he remains in contention as we head into day two.
The five-time champion headed into the turn even thanks to a par save on the par-four ninth after he lost his balance on his tee shot and hooked into the trees down the left. He sent a low draw under the branches to find the front of the green but his subsequent chip ran beyond the hole leaving him with a challenging putt back down the slope. With infamous Tiger nerves of steel, he tickled in the downhill par saver.
Woods broke both his legs in a high-speed crash in southern California in February 2021, with his right leg severely damaged, resulting in a long and arduous period of rehabilitation. After feeling comfortable following practice rounds last week and this week, Woods confirmed his intention to play on Tuesday – going as far as to say he thought he could win the tournament.
‘I’m here to win, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was possible. I can hit the ball just fine. I don’t have any qualms physically from a golf standpoint. It’s now walking that’s the hardest part. You know, 72 holes is a long road and it is going to be a tough challenge. But it’s one that I’m up for.’
He added: ‘I’ll know when I can’t win anymore, and that’s when I’ll hang it up, but right now I still think it’s possible.
‘I still have the hands to do it and I can still move. I’ve been in worse situations than I feel right now and won tournaments.’